The University of Connecticut's women's basketball program has been a powerhouse for decades and the cream-of-the-crop destination for many high school basketball players.
Baltimore native Mir McLean fell in love with the team in recent years, and her dream became a reality this summer when she verbally committed to play for the university following her graduation from Roland Park Country School in 2020.
McLean, a three-time
Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro pick, led Roland Park to a 26-2 mark during her junior season, averaging 18.3 points and 12.9 rebounds per game with 19 double doubles. Roland Park, coached by Dani Steinbach, finished the season ranked No. 2 by
She is currently a five-star recruit and ranked the No. 32 prospect in the nation,
according to ESPN
. She is already a member of her school's 1,000-point club, the first Reds player ever to reach that mark as a junior. She is also the first player ever from her school to pull down 1,000 career rebounds.
Even with all her success, McLean never expected to catch the eye of UConn and legendary head coach Geno Auriemma, who came to see her play in person last season before offering her a scholarship.
"My high school coach didn't even tell me he was coming," McLean said on
Glenn Clark Radio
July 2. "I was kind of in shock. I didn't think [UConn] was serious."
McLean, an athletic 5-foot-11 wing, declined offers from South Carolina, Miami and NC State. She says she was drawn to UConn by 2018 WNBA fourth overall pick Gabby Williams for not only her abilities on the court but because of her will to win and the buzz she created for the program.
"I really started watching them two years ago when they had Gabby. I would hear, 'Oh, UConn won again. They won again,' and I'm like, 'Goodness gracious!'" McLean said. "So I started watching and it started to be apparent why they were winning and how they were winning, and I kind of liked that."
McLean is the middle child of five siblings, all boys except for her, and will be the first among them to play Division I sports. She is also a quintessential student-athlete: She has a 3.7 GPA, likely due to her mother, Ayanna, who is the principal at Independence High (Md.), and her late father, Dante, who played receiver for the Morgan State football team.
She is considered one of the most athletic and talented players in her class with plenty of room to grow. Her game and mindset are aggressive and relentless; she patterns her game after Michael Jordan.
"When I first started watching basketball, and even now, I still watch Michael Jordan," McLean said. "My dad was interested in him and that kind of got me into it. So when I was watching him I was like, 'I'm going to try that. How do you do that?' And it was something that was really interesting, and his personality really attracted me into liking him."
Five-time WNBA All-Star Angel McCoughtry is one of the most famous basketball players to come out of Baltimore. McLean views her as a role model after hearing about her story from one of her coaches and knows she has the potential to one the city's greats.
"It was hard to believe that someone like that could come out of a story like hers from Baltimore," McLean said. "It's kind of exciting and nerve-racking [to follow her legacy]."
McLean heads into her senior year ready to keep competing at a high level and enjoying her last year in high school.
"[I want to] make my high school team as successful as possible, my AAU team as successful as possible, and then just work on my perimeter game."
Photo Credit: Whitney Wasson
To hear more from McLean, listen to the full interview here: